Sunday, January 31, 2010

Two in a row?

To what do I owe this honor?

Tonight was my twenty-minutes-of-intervals night. Last time, I was stuck on the elliptical, like it or not, because all of the treadmills were taken. Tonight, though, I snagged the last open treadmills, crossed my fingers, and went for it.

And what do you know? Two completely pain-free, super-rewarding runs in a row.

Oxygen provides a suggested 20-minute interval plan based on RPEs. The actual intervals are good -- 90 seconds at RPE 6ish, followed by 30 seconds at 8-9, repeat. However, it ALSO calls for a 5-minute warmup AND 5-minute cooldown at RPE 3-4...and that's included in the 20 minutes. I just can't wrap my mind around spending half of my workout not, well, working. So, I cheat a little. I spend the first 5 minutes at my typical RPE 6 (a 9 minute pace, or 6.7mph), kick it up a little to 7.0 for the first 90 second chunk, and then up to 8.6 for the fast 30 seconds. I also stick with 6.7mph for the first 2 1/2 minutes of my cooldown, but I do walk the last 2 1/2.

After the gym, I was all excited -- PhillyGuy was trying his hand at grilling fish for the first time ever. We picked up some sea bass the last time we were at Costco, and tonight he grilled them up based on a recipe he found online -- coated with various spices (paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, some other stuff) and basted with a garlic butter he melted down with some fresh parsley. I tossed some fresh asparagus, quartered baby portobello mushrooms, and shallots with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and rosemary, and roasted that for 25 minutes at 400 degrees on the side.

Oh, MAN this was a good dinner. PhillyGuy has officially added fish to his repertoire.

Unfortunately, Sophie hates it when we open the sliding doors to get out on the balcony and grill. She freaked and climbed into our end table, where she hid through most of the cooking process. She's relaxing now, but not really I share with you this "vintage" Sophie moment from early fall:

From Sophie

Saturday, January 30, 2010

PhillyGirl Actually Runs!

Last night was a good, good night. I don't know about the rest of you, but this week just CRAWLED for me. I can't even tell you how excited I was to be able to get home last night, hit the gym, have PhillyGuy grill us up some pork chops, and spend the evening hanging out, eating well, and playing with Sophie.

The gym was fantastic. On my schedule was thirty minutes of steady-state cardio, followed by "pull:" biceps, back and abs. I really, REALLY wanted to run -- it had been a long week, and it's been forever since I've been able to run. I gingerly stepped onto the treadmill, cranked it up, bit my lip and hoped for the best.

One minute went knee pain. Two pain. As soon as I hit a quarter mile, I knew I was good to go, and I was just thrilled about it. I did the first 10 minutes at 6.7mph, second 10 minutes at 7.0, and back down to 6.7 for the last ten minutes. Alas, can't tell you how far I went in that 30 minutes (though, mathematically, it should have been something around 3.4 miles), because I accidentally jabbed the emergency stop button about 21:20 into it...soooooooo annoying.

Pleasantly sweaty, I moved on to weights:

- Lat pulldown, 3x12 at 70lbs
- One-armed row, 3x12 each side with two resistance bands looped around one of the machines
- Dumbbell bicep curls, 3x12 with two 15-lb dumbbells
- Preacher curls, 3x8 with 40lbs
- Planks, 3x45 seconds each

It went well. I'm sore today, in a good way.

I had been looking forward to our grilled pork chops all day. Unfortunately, however, as those of you in the area know, it was a balmy 17-20 degrees last night by the time we got back from the gym around 8. Grilling anything was NOT in our future. Instead, I got out the 2007 Cooking Light cookbook that generally just gathers dust and looks pretty on my kitchen counter, and made Pork Medallions with Porcini Mushroom Sauce.

I improvised a little -- I used fresh baby portobello mushrooms instead of dried and cooking sherry instead of the Marsala wine, but MAN did this come out well. We had thick grilling chops, so I sliced them in half width-wise to make sure they cooked. By the time they cooked through, the sauce had reduced down more than it was supposed to, but I think that really made the dish. So, SO flippin' good.

Today we're heading out to my lil' bro's house for a housewarming party -- he bought his first house back in September. It should be a good time -- they're having a bonfire outside, which is always a great thing.

Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

MUCH less of a PITA this week!

I was sort of dreading doing legs last night. Not the actual workout, since I almost always really enjoy lifting, especially legs -- my legs are pretty strong and I always feel good. But, after last week's virtually incapacitating leg workout, I was really worried about saddling myself again.

I went anyway, of course. And it was (for the most part, anyway) FINE. I did:

- Squats, 3x12 with two 15-lb dumbbells, one on each shoulder
- Lunges. Ugh. More on this below, but I did three really UGLY sets of 8 lunges on each side with (wait for it) two THREE POUND dumbbells.
- Stability ball reverse leg extensions, 3x12.
- Stiff-legged deadlifts, 3x12 at 50lbs (a 20-lb and a 5-lb dumbbell in each hand).
- Standing calf raises on a platform, 3x12 holding a 15-lb dumbbell on my chest, dropping my heels below level
- Standing calf raises on the floor, 3x15 at 90lbs, using the preacher curl machine (I am SO proud of my creativity)

So, about those lunges. I don't know if it's my knee issues or what, but I am having SERIOUS trouble with these. It's not JUST my knees, although I feel a TON of pressure and some pain when I lunge with my right leg forward. It's also that, no matter how little weight I use, I feel like I'm about THISCLOSE to pulling a glute every. Freaking. Time.

It's frustrating (like many things about working out!) because I want a challenging, difficult workout, and let's face it, when you've got big ol' strong legs like mine, 3lb dumbbells do NOT challenge and build muscle. My form must be terrible. With no mirrors in the gym it's tough to tell, but that's all I can think of, because I've done lunges in the past -- even WALKING lunges -- without the same pain and pressure I'm feeling now. Guess I need to drag PhillyGuy to the gym with me on legs night to see what I look like.

I'm glad it's Thursday. It's a rest day, for one. The week is almost over. I don't have to go to court today like I thought I did (sensing a pattern here?), so I got to wear my new J.Crew Jackie twinset in burnished olive. My back-ordered Jackie cardigan in navy is coming today, instead of two weeks from now, as they had projected.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I cannot believe...

...that it is only Wednesday.

Monday and Tuesday were quite enough "week" for me, thanks. I'm ready for it to be Friday! I spent so much time this past weekend working, cleaning and running errands (including an absurdly long time spent in the vaccuum cleaner aisle at Target trying to pick out a new small/stair vaccuum...what do I know about this kind of thing?!?) that I didn't get a chance to do the more fun things I'd had planned. Like my much-needed manicure and pedicure. And a haircut. And man, are these brows scruffy...

so, THAT is what I am looking forward to this weekend.

In the meantime...yesterday's eats came out well. I dragged out the George Foreman from the depths of the under-the-counter appliances cabinet, where it has been more or less banished since we got an actual outdoor grill, and grilled myself some chicken which I threw on a salad. That I made in a big salad bowl meant to, you know, SERVE salad to a tableful of people. There are worse things in life than giant vats of fresh veggies!

Gym was good, too, but it felt strange to only do 20 minutes of cardio, stretch, and leave. As I've mentioned, I'm following an Oxygen magazine plan that calls for three days of lifting and four days of cardio, but cautions that the schedule should be followed "to the letter." So, who am I to judge? I dutifully did my intervals (and 20 minutes left me quite the sweaty mess, I might add) and headed back home.

Tonight is legs night. You may recall that last week, legs night left me all but incapacitated for several days. My butt hurt. My hamstrings hurt. After busting my legs on Thursday, I wasn't really back to normal until Sunday. I am sort of interested to see whether the same thing happens this week.

In any event...we're halfway through the week. It's SUNNY out! And court was cancelled for me this morning, which means that I'm NOT stuck on a train out into the 'burbs right now. All in all, a good day...Time to get back to work!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The challenges of tracking intake

So, yesterday was a big fat FAIL in terms of trying to cut back on calories. For whatever reason, it was just one of those days where I was constantly RAVENOUS. (Caps necessary.) After I posted yesterday, I did manage, with the help of a nice warm cup of orange spice tea, to force myself to wait until about 12:30 to tear into my sandwich. I wolfed that down, along with the rest of my Z-bar, in about 4.2 second flat.

I had a conference call at 2 that dragged on and on and on kept me occupied and distracted enough to avoid eating again until about 3:15. The second it was over, though, I couldn't wait any longer, and dug into my pre-gym Clif bar. Within an hour or so, my stomach was growling AGAIN, despite my second cup of tea. I ate the only other thing I had in my office, which was about 1.5 servings of everything Pretzel Crisps.

Lest you think that would tide me over, friends, fear not -- I felt strong hunger pangs during my workout. Here I am, on the elliptical, just trying to get through my 30 minutes and focus on an ancient edition of People, and all I can do is think about what I'm making for dinner. Um, ABSURD. I had a great lifting session (push -- chest, tris and shoulders), and hustled it back to my house where I feasted on leftover spiedies, frozen veggies and an entire sweet potato, sliced up into rounds and baked at 400 degrees with some cooking spray and season-all.

Altogether, I ended up around 2200 for the day, which is a far cry from the 1800 I was aiming for. But, such is life. Not the end of the world -- those days ALWAYS come up.

Today has been MUCH, much better. I'm well on target for my 1800, and that includes both a midafternoon latte AND a pre-gym Clif bar as well as the usual meals. It's reassuring to know that this isn't some absurdly low number. Counting is a big pain, but I know it's effective, and tracking what I was taking in before was a big help, so that I wasn't just setting some random, arbitrary number. Reducing my count by 500 calories per day SHOULD result in a deficit of 3500 calories each week, or one pound lost.

Tonight is a short workout -- just 20 minutes of intense cardio intervals. I'm hoping to be able to run it (rather than spin my wheels on the stupid elliptical), but we'll see.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Rainy days and Mondays!

So, I know I've mentioned before how much I love my commute. And I really, really do. But today, when it was raining (not that hard, thankfully!) and WINDY (um, really really hard, unfortunately), I was not quite as enthusiastic.

I have my rainy-day tricks, though. If it rains, I try not to wear pants -- skirts and tights all the way. It works quite nicely with my rainboots. Pants never fit nicely into the boots, and the creases end up getting messed up, so it's skirts every time.

I also have an arsenal of waterproof outerwear -- a full-length raincoat WITH hood, AND a bucket-style rain hat. The hat helps my hood stay up, keeps the water out of my eyes, and gives an extra layer to help keep my hair dry. I swap whatever purse I'd otherwise have been carrying (I should post about that sometime -- I am obsessed with handbags) for this great lululemon faux-leather gym bag that manages to keep everything (papers, lunch, BB, phone, and clutch with the essentials) dry, while still looking professional. On top of all of that, I carry a trusty umbrella.

But, yes. About that "trusty" umbrella. And the gale force winds. You see, today, the wind was SO crazy that it ever-so-slightly bent the stem of my umbrella. And when it bent the stem, that somehow weakened whatever mechanism kept the collapsable stem from, well, collapsing. And that, my friends, is how I found myself chasing the top portion of my umbrella (you know, the useful part that keeps the rain away) down 21st Street with the handle in my hand.

Le sigh. On top of all of this, I am just STARVIN' today. Today is day one of my attempts to cut roughly 500 calories from my previous diet. One of my cuts was to trade my normal large skim latte for a small (85 calories vs. 160). I also switched the fruit-flavored Chobani in my usual breakfast of Chobani, 1/4c granola, and fruit (typically berries or a banana) for plain (120 vs 160 calories for the yogurt).

Um, and now it's 11:40 am, and I've already eaten nearly all of my apple and a giant bite of my Z-bar in an effort to stave off my panging stomach. I'm SURE a cup of milk and some sugar wasn't keeping me that satiated, so I'm hoping this is not an everyday occurrence...but we'll see. It's taking every fiber of my being to wait until noon to tear into my sandwich. If I don't wait, it's going to be an ETERNITY of an afternoon.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

PITA continued...

Oh man. My legs and my glutes have not been this sore in a long, LONG time. Tonight was 30 minutes of cardio and "pull" lifting...I planned to do my usual elliptical routine, which is the "random" program at level 11. I lasted about 40 seconds before I had to bump the resistance/level down to 7. Good grief, my butt...and my legs...are KILLING me!

So, it's been almost one week of tracking my food intake. Most days, as I said, I averaged 2300-2400 calories. Yesterday was significantly higher -- much closer to 3000 -- because we went out to dinner at Mixto. Paella, a couple of glasses of wine, and half a gigantic slice of red velvet cake will do that!

But today -- I was very surprised to see how much lower my calories were. Pretty much without trying, I'm just under 1500 calories for today. I had my usual breakfast -- Chobani, quarter cup of granola, and berries, with a large skim latte -- and lunch -- sandwich with hummus, turkey, spinach and fat free cheese on an Arnold's sandwich thin, with pretzel chips on the side. The difference, I think, is that I ate lunch much, much later, and so between running errands, the dog park and the gym, there was no time for snacking between meals, whereas typically, at work, I'll have two snacks (apple with cheese, and a pre-gym snack of Clif bar or a second latte).

Finally, I leave you with this. I had said before that I didn't have a good "before" picture, because I've been more or less avoiding cameras. And yeah, I was. But I did find this one, from a black-tie fundraiser event Mike and I went to in November at the Please Touch Museum:

The angle in this is kind of flattering (sad to say), but I think you can really see the weight gain in my face, and my arms are nowhere near as cut as they were last year. Sadly, I wouldn't be surprised if I'd put on a couple pounds since this picture was taken, but I think it gives a good idea of where I'm starting from. (I do LOVE this dress, though, and if [when!] it gets too big for me, I am SO having it taken in.)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Pain in the butt...

literally, and figuratively.

First, the literal: last night was "legs" night. The Oxygen routine I have chosen to follow had me doing plenty of glute work. Squats, lunges, those weird donkey kick-back things (I had hoped this would work my hams as well, and perhaps it did, but they're not particularly sore)...also, stiff-legged deadlifts and seated and standing calf raises. I'm still a little challenged with the lack of equipment but am making some good substitutions. Deadlifts, for example -- instead of fighting with the 45-lb dumbbells, which I have a hard time holding (not to be confused with LIFTING -- grip and forearm strength, I do not has it), I used 20-lb AND 5-lb dumbbells. Once I figured out how to hold both at once, I just upped my reps from 8 to 12 and voila, effort!

It's still not perfect -- I cannot wait until they finish the new gym and I can actually use a STRAIGHT BAR with REAL WEIGHTS -- but one must adapt!

Now, the figurative: MAN, is it a PITA to write down everything I eat. But it's been very enlightening. I haven't changed my habits at all this week, since my goal was to see where my baseline is, and I am pretty surprised at my calorie intake. Looks like I've been averaging 2300-2400 calories per day. And really, I bet it was more -- even though I have not INTENTIONALLY tried to change my habits yet, this has been a comparatively good week. No DiBruno's wraps or bagel breakfasts (ok, except for today -- and I gotta say, it wasn't particularly delicious). But this is VERY educational. I know this kind of monitoring isn't for everyone, but I am the master of excuses and justifications, so seeing it there in black and white is pretty necessary for me.

Today is a "rest day" on my Oxygen plan, and thank god, because it honestly hurt to put on underwear this morning. And to sit down in my chair here at work. I'm looking forward to blowing through this day and starting my weekend -- maybe by soaking my sore butt in a bubble bath.

Happy Friday all! Any fun plans?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

So...WHY a blog?

I've been following a bunch of healthy living blogs for about a year and a half or two years now. I started reading them during a slow period at work a few months before my wedding during the summer of 2008 and got hooked. I love discovering new foods and getting inspiration to mix things up a bit when it comes to working out. I owe so many staples in my diet to blogs -- I mean, really. I'd never heard of Greek yogurt before it swept across the blogworld, and now I start every day with Chobani, berries and granola.

Hmm. Well, maybe not EVERY day. And that brings me to the title of my post...WHY a blog?

See, over the past year or so, I have slowly let myself slip. While I wasn't at all TRYING to lose weight for my wedding, I did drop a few pounds. I had also trained for and run my first long race, and PhillyGuy had put together a new lifting program for us that had me changing up the body parts I worked and the exercises that I did. So, on my wedding day, I was thrilled with the shape I was in:

And then, over the next 18 months or so, little things here and there added up to little POUNDS here and there. PhillyGuy and I moved, and while our new house is fabulous, the gym in our development is nowhere near as good as the gym from our old apartment building. Still, we were so used to not paying for a gym membership that we didn't even consider joining a better facility. As a result, we couldn't do the full amount of lifting that we had done before, and rather than try to find alternatives, we just cut everything down.

And eating. Oooh, eating. I started to get lazy and didn't make my breakfast and lunch as frequently. The every-once-in-a-while bagel and cream cheese became my go-to breakfast at least three or four days a week. I also got busy at work, so when I ran down to the food court to grab something, I went with the fastest thing possible, which was a grab-and-go wrap from DiBruno's the size of my head. I knew I was making a bad choice, but justified it because it wasn't the WORST choice -- after all, I could have been getting a cheesesteak or a crabcake sandwich! And I didn't even get the chicken caesar or turkey-bacon-cheese wrap, I got the MEDITERRANEAN wrap! Never mind that the tortilla must have been two feet in diameter, or the fact that each wrap contained about four ounces of feta.

But (as I tend to do), I digress. It should come as absolutely no surprise to you that about 18 months of this has resulted in a pretty significant weight gain. And because it's not an overnight thing, I brushed it off. What's a couple pounds? No big deal! Until it becomes a couple, and then a couple more, and then a couple more, and then all of a sudden my pants are uncomfortably tight. I got on the scale this morning for the first time in months, and it was not a welcome sight. I have officially gained at LEAST 18-20 pounds.

So, that brings us here. So many bloggers have fantastic stories. And just like most of them, I know how to lose weight -- I've done it before! When I was in college, I dropped about thirty pounds and went from a size 10/12 to a size 4/6 (note that at my smallest, I was an easy 4, but I was also on the Atkins diet and eating roast beef for breakfast, so I don't like to count that). I maintained that pretty easily until my first year of law school, when -- not unlike this past year -- I embarked on a combined regimen of slacking at the gym AND eating pretty much whatever I damn well pleased. I gained about 15 pounds back that year and lost them again within a few months after I buckled down.

It's time to do that again, and I started this blog in the hopes of remaining accountable. I haven't taken any full-body pictures recently, mostly because I know what I'm going to look like in them and I just don't want to deal with it. That'll change and I WILL take "before" pictures, though I likely won't share them until I'm ready to take progress pics (c'mon, I'm human).

So here's my plan:

- I bought a small notebook and am recording everything I eat so that I can get a grasp on how many calories I'm taking in and what the composition is. I suspect I eat way too much (duh) and that I don't get enough veggies. After a week, I'll have a good picture and will be able to cut about 500 calories per day and identify where my nutrients need help.
- I am abandoning the body part split PhillyGuy put together for us and am going back to a push/pull/legs split. This month's Oxygen magazine has a great routine, and so does Krista at
- My cardio is about where it needs to be -- 3-4 times per week, mix of steady-state and intervals, long (40-45 minutes) and shorter (20-30 minute) sessions. I know from past experience that it's my diet that needs to change, not my time glued to the treadmill, but I will revisit this if I'm not getting results.

For now...that's it. I'll revisit in a month and tweak as necessary.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Just so you know

Betty's Speakeasy, on 23d Street between South and Bainbridge, has some of the BEST coffee I've ever had. Creamy and delicious and...well, yeah. Also, they have unspeakably adorable fixin's -- sugar in the raw and half-n-half (don't come here looking for sweet-n-low), with tiny, mismatched metal spoons to stir.

I went there in early December to pick up a couple cupcakes to celebrate the end of PhillyGuy's first semester of grad school. One chocolate with peppermint icing, and I can't recall exactly what the other was -- something strawberry? Regardless, they were delicious, too. Just like the coffee, which I tried for the first time on a quick grocery run yesterday morning. Ever since I tried the cupcakes, I'd been meaning to go test out the coffee...but that place keeps bizarre hours. They don't open until 11am most days, which is long past my first coffee point.

Still -- flippin' GOOD stuff.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Lazy Sunday...sort of

Blogworld, I am frustrated with myself.

I have a recurring knee injury. It started after I'd been running casually for a year or two, once I started trying to train for "real" races and bumped up the intensity a little. I would be fine until I tried to run more than 20 or 22 miles per week...and then, I'd start to get a pain right under my patella. It was at its worst when I was running, but also when I was going down stairs. Sometimes it would be both knees, but much more frequently, just my right knee.

For years I self-treated by taking some time off of running until it didn't hurt anymore. But i never quite knew when it would be "healed," you know? Maybe it wouldn't hurt to go down stairs any more, but I'd start to run and BAM! Couple minutes in, and there it is. Sometimes, I stupidly tried to run through it. I could never predict how long an injury would last -- sometimes a few days without running and I'd be back to normal. The longest I was ever off was a couple (torturous, elliptical-filled) months. I never went to the doctor, because I was in law school, with no "real" insurance -- only the lame plan I had through school (basically, I could get Sudafed from the clinic and if I broke my leg or something, they'd cover it).

Two years ago, I ran Broad Street for the first time. Training was fine. My long runs were fine. But then, out of nowhere, a week or two after the race, the knee pain started up again. This time, I was a real live attorney with real live health insurance, so I went to the doctor. Immediately, she diagnosed me with the oh-so-common patella-femoral syndrome. She explained that my quads were not strong enough to keep my patella on track where it belonged, and that the best treatment would be to strengthen those muscles. Braces weren't going to help, blah blah. So, she wrote me a prescription for physical therapy, so I could go learn what exercises to do and all that.

But, dear blogworld, I was about to begin a trial at that point. For the next three weeks I practically lived at the office and billed so many hours I couldn't breathe. And then after that, our post-trial brief was due, and guess who had to write that? And then -- THEN it was almost the wedding!

Excuse after excuse after excuse. I never went to PT. My knee, as it tends to do, "healed" itself with some time off. I went back to running. My knee hurt here and there, but healed itself here and there, so that I never felt like I needed to go back to the doctor.

Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

This is one of the longest stretches of PFS flareup I can remember. I was fine through most of the summer, but didn't train too hard -- I did mostly mid-length runs, five miles or so, with some speedwork in there. In September, I signed up for my firm's team in the Newark Corporate Run 5K (and PS? I HATE 5Ks!) and trained pretty hard to try to get my speed down. I was on track for breaking 24 minutes, or so I hoped. And then -- the week before the race, my knee started twinging a little. I took it easy and hoped for the best.

Instead, I got the worst. I had a solid first and second mile -- both just under 8:00. Then, just after mile 2, my knee hit me, HARD. Sharp pains under my patella. I had to walk a ton. Every time I thought it was OK to run again, I'd go a few yards and BAM. My time for that race was 28-something...with the first two miles in under 16:00. I wanted to cry.

That was the first week in October. And, because I am a complete idiot, I haven't been back to normal since.

I've been doing what I always do. Which is take a week or so off, with no running at all, instead killing boring, BORING time on the elliptical or doing hill walking. Then, I test the waters. I run a little, just to see. I'll do four easy miles and feel SO GREAT! Then, a couple days later, some speedwork...SO GREAT! And then, a couple days later, I run and OMG MY KNEE IT HURTS SO BAD.

Tonight was one of those nights. I ran for four minutes. See, my knee always hurts a little at the beginning of a run. It usually goes away after about a quarter mile. Tonight, it still hurt, a little -- I could tell after two minutes it was here to stay, but I foolishly thought I could make a mile. "At least I'll get ONE in, and then I'll switch over. I've barely run this week! I NEED to run tonight!"

SO SO STUPID. And that, my friends, is how I found myself watching the fine film "Bring It On 2: All or Nothing" while spending 20 sweaty minutes on the stupid hamster wheel elliptical (random program, level 11) and another 20 walking hills (level 15, 4.0mph, alternating incline 5.5 with incline 8.0, 9.3 and 11.0).

That PT script probably expired. Guess I need to make time for the doctor.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Work on a Saturday? No thanks...

I've been in the office for about 50 minutes. I have a list of things I need to get done before the week starts, because my boss has a giant new case for me and I need to get all my little crap out of the way first. I have a post-it note on the wall next to me with my to-do list -- maybe 7 or 8 things on it, and probably 8 or 10 hours total of stuff.

I started one of those things last night around 6 -- something I thought would take like half an hour to do. It's just summarizing some research I already did -- a long time ago, since I was an idiot and didn't save the summary I did the first time around. And my brain just wasn't cooperating. I'd write, read the sentence, realize it was incoherent, delete and rewrite. Wash, rinse, repeat.

So, just after noon, I strolled into my office. One PITA about coming in on a weekend is that the lights in the individual offices don't always work. They're on a master switch somewhere and I just don't care enough to figure out how to turn it on. So, when I came in and flipped my light switch and nothing happened, I knew it was going to be rough.

Now, it's not to say I haven't done ANYTHING. I printed some things. And I searched for something.

But mostly, I've been reading blogs. And all I want to do is take advantage of the warmer weather (it's about 50 out, and sunny) and go for a run. So you know what? It's a three day weekend. I have plenty of time to get this work done. I'm leaving.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

"Lookin' like a fool with yo' pants on the ground"

I've always known that I have some...hmm...electic...taste in music.

But tonight, when I was in the middle of my 40-minute hill walk, it really hit me know what? It might just be BAD taste in music.

Here's tonight's playlist:

"Goodbye Girl," Squeeze (remember that Under Armor commercial from a few years back with Heather Mitts?)
"Breakout," Miley Cyrus
"Single Ladies," Beyonce
"Bad Romance," Lady Gaga (I am officially the last person on this train...I JUST heard this song for the first time over Christmas)
"Right Round," Flo Rida
"Viva la Gloria!" Green Day (my favorite band -- hands down)
"Just Dance," Lady Gaga
"Bat Out of Hell," Meatloaf
"Bouncing Off the Walls Again," Sugarcult
"Pour Some Sugar on Me," Def Leppard
"Drunken Lullabies," Flogging Molly
"Good Girls Go to Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere)," Meatloaf
"In the Ayer," Flo Rida feat. Will-I-Am
"When I Grow Up," Pussycat Dolls
"A Little Less Sixteen Candles, a Little More Touch Me," Fallout Boy
"Everything Louder than Everything Else," Meatloaf
"Welcome to the Black Parade," My Chemical Romance
"Krazy Glue," Less than Jake
"Only the Good Die Young," Me First & the Gimme Gimmes

Um...yeah. That would be not one, not two, but THREE Meatloaf songs. With Lady Gaga, and LTJ, and a little Miley just for good measure.

Yup. Bad taste. did get "pants on the ground" out of my head for about an hour!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010



I am debating making tonight a "rest night." Last night's legs routine may not have seemed like enough at the time, and perhaps it wasn't -- but I am definitely sore today.

It's been a long week at work. And it's only WEDNESDAY. Here I am, staring at a Saxby's coffee cup, trying to force myself to finish this project I'm on. It's not a particularly hard project, but it's not all that interesting, either -- and I have so much other stuff to do that I enjoy so much more! (And I'm not just talking about, you know, buying ten pairs of new Lululemon sweats or playing fetch with Sophie. I have "fun" projects here at work, too.) But alas, I have a deadline to meet. And hours to bill.

Suspect I'll be billing a bunch of those hours either at home or over the weekend. Or both. Le sigh. Sometimes, you just need to take a break to refocus.

So, here's my break. I attempt to decide whether tonight will be a rest night (my aching back and shoulders and hamstrings think it should be!) or whether I will take a quick, easy shake-out run to release some of that tightness in my legs (since I'm not actually TIRED, this is what my brain thinks it should be). The wildcard in all of this is that at 4:30, we have a "mandatory" wine and cheese gathering in my office.

Life's tough, right?

I suspect that, while my brain right now is clamoring "SHAKE-OUT RUN! SHAKE-OUT RUN!", a glass of red will promptly convert me to "NAP TIME! NAP TIME!" Which really, when you think about it, is not necessarily a bad thing. Overtraining and ignoring aches and pains is what put me on my running hiatus in the first place, right?

...and then I laugh at the idea of my measly 15-mile weeks being "overtraining." Perhaps we'll just let that red wine do its job.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tonight was one of those nights where I wanted nothing more than to swaddle myself in fleece and curl up in bed. Gym? No thanks. Dinner? Eh. Walking the dog in 30 degree weather? GAH, no way.

And it would have been so, so easy to do just that. Well, I mean, the dog had to get walked, for sure. But everything was just one of those nights. Even though PhillyGuy and I had emailed a bit earlier about how we planned to hit the gym after I got home from work, he conveniently "forgot" about it, suggesting that he make dinner while I walked the dog.

No stress. I called him out, and to the gym we went.

Tonight was short cardio for me, followed by legs. And ooh, legs are a challenge. Not "challenge" in the sense of "OMG I am weak," but "challenge" as in "OMG, I have a crappy condo gym with no straight bars, no leg press, no smith machine, and in short, none of the things I used to use when I lifted legs regularly."

Here's tonight's routine:

- Elliptical (aka hamster wheel of death), 15 minutes on the random program, level 11
- Stiff-legged deadlifts with 45-lb dumbbells (total 90lbs lifted)
- Wall sits, 2 x 30 seconds each (I had to stop these because of the stress they put on my knees)
- Leg extension (machine), 3x12 at 55lbs
- Squats, 3x12 with varying weights, trying to find a good configuration (15lb dumbbell held at chest level, 20lb dumbbell held behind neck, two 15lb dumbbells balanced one on each shoulder -- that was probably the winner)

That's probably not enough, although we'll see how my legs feel tomorrow. The deadlifts are as good as they're going to get -- 90lbs is a little light for me, but there are no heavier weights. I will probably have to add in lunges, but those tend to stress my knees a lot. I'm open to any other suggestions!

After the gym, though -- THAT was something to get excited about. Spiedies!

Here's a little secret. PhillyGuy is not actually from Philly. No, he's from outside of Binghamton. It's not the most exciting place I've ever been, but his hometown has brought one amazing thing to my life: spiedies. Roughly bite-size chunks of chicken breast, marinated in vinegar, olive oil, and herbs. We stock up on them every time we visit the in-laws. After Christmas, we've got about 12 pounds of these bad boys in my freezer.

PhillyGuy grills them in a basket. He made himself some brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes to go alongside his spiedies. I put mine on a ginormous salad (romaine, grape tomatoes, white mushrooms, vidalia onion, red pepper, and kalamata olives with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and rice wine vinegar) in a mixing bowl. GOD, I love spiedies.

Now I'm in my sweats, ready to shower and then call it a night. Life isn't SO terrible sometimes.

We're just seeing...

if I can do this from work.

One of my favorite things about living in the city is my commute.

I walk to work. Thanks to my trusty Garmin (which, much like acorn squash, I eyed up for what felt like an eternity before the blog world (and a nicely-timed clearance on 305s) convinced me that I needed one), I calculated the distance from home to office at a cool 1.17 miles. Including a stop for coffee, it takes me about 25 minutes door-to-door.

When it's really cold out (I'm talking about 20 and below), or if it's raining hard, I'll take advantage of the shuttle that runs from my complex. It drops me off right at my office building (well, me and the other 70% of the shuttle that works in this part of the city), AND drops me off at my preferred work arrival time (just before 8) with an extra 15 minutes of getting-ready time.

But I really, really prefer to walk. Like this morning. It was a balmy 24 degrees when I left the house. Bundled up in my nuclear coat with a scarf, hat and gloves, I was actually a bit over-warm by the time I made it to Good Karma, my preferred coffee shop. Armed with my latte, I was officially sweating a little by the time I made it to Rittenhouse. Cold weather? What cold weather?

(As a side note, that coat might be the best purchase anyone has ever made for me. PhillyGuy bought it as an early birthday present for me back in the fall of 2006. I've always been the type of person who would layer a long sleeve shirt, short sleeve shirt, and hoodie under my winter coat and STILL freeze my butt off. That coat is NO JOKE. It' s my fourth winter with it and it's not going anywhere any time soon.)

But there is no question that my commute is one of my favorite parts of the day. I get to walk about 2.5 miles, round trip, through some of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the city. It's quiet and peaceful (at least until I get through the square), and I have plenty of time to sort out my thoughts so that I'm -- more or less -- ready to jump into it when I get to work.

(To be fair, though, the only thing I "jump into" at 8am most mornings is a quick check of e-mail, skimming the NYT headlines, and a blog rotation. But on those (dreadful!) mornings where my boss beats me in and starts my day with an 8:03 "Can you come see me for a minute?" call, I'm praising Jebus that I didn't start my day with a bunch of traffic jams and terrible morning DJs.)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Acorn Squash "Casserole"

I can't even tell you how many times I'll see a certain food on someone's blog and think to myself "OMG, I NEED to try that." I make a mental note of the ingredient or the recipe that caught my eye, and vow to pick some up on the way home from work/the next time I'm at the store/over the weekend at the farmer's market (select as applicable).

And promptly forget about it. Until the next time I see it on someone's blog. At which point I am nowhere near a grocery store or farmer's market stand. Wash, rinse, repeat.

One of those ingredients was acorn squash. I've seen it on any number of blogs - GraduateMeghann, Healthy Tipping Point, MegaNerdRuns, blah, blah blah. I like squash! I like fall flavors! Since sometime in September, I'm guessing, I've been meaning to grab one and try it out.

Finally -- FINALLY -- I bought one last weekend. I was going to buy two -- one for me, and one for PhillyGuy -- but he was skeptical. "I'll just try yours first." So, armed with a single squash, I waited for a night when he wasn't around to test it out. Tonight was perfect -- it's about 30 degrees out, he's at class, and it's just me and Sophie, so I experimented a bit.

I started by cutting the squash in half, scooping out the seeds, and baking it for about 30 minutes at 375 degrees, face-down in a jelly roll pan filled with a bit of water. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy the acorn squash was to cut in half -- WAY easier than a spaghetti squash, which always makes me break a sweat.

While the squash was baking, I diced up and sauteed half a vidalia onion, some red pepper, a handful of portobello mushrooms, and half of an apple. I gave the other half to Sophie:

Sophie LOVES apples.

I cubed up a couple chicken breasts and added that, along with a package of prepared brown rice, a few glugs of beef broth I had in the fridge, and a handful or two of craisins, to the veggie mix. I seasoned the whole thing with some cinnamon, chipotle, paprika, salt, pepper, and a tiny bit of cayenne. The mix had about five minutes to simmer together while I pulled the baked squash out of the oven. I peeled and cubed the squash, added that to the mix, and let the whole thing chill together, covered, on low while I cleaned up.

Verdict: OH. MY. GOD. Acorn squash, where have you been my whole life?

(Answer: waiting patiently in the produce section for months and months and months.)